English Championship

Relegated Wolves sack Saunders

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Tue, 07 May 2013 10:24:00

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has admitted that Hatem Ben Arfa is playing through the pain barrier in a bid to aid the club's survival bid.

Pardew took a gamble on Ben Arfa's fitness by starting him in last weekend's goalless draw at West Ham.

Ben Arfa has been blighted with hamstring problems this season which have restricted him to just 20 appearances in all competitions.

Pardew is prepared to take a risk on Ben Arfa's fitness as he feels the Frenchman can make the difference in their battle to avoid relegation.

"Ben Arfa has been struggling. This hamstring has a slight weakness in there and it won't even be strong I don't think for six, seven weeks," noted Pardew.

"We got a great level of fitness out of him in terms of that particular problem. He was terrific at West Ham, and he's a match winner.

"We've been bringing him on in the second half but started him at the weekend and we missed him when we took him off. We missed that little thrust.

"I think for Hatem another week's work will get him closer. Goal scoring is what wins games, we've got to improve that area for next week, including with Hatem."

Saunders, 48, replaced Stale Solbakken in January, but won just five of his 20 games in charge and could not prevent Wolves from dropping into npower League One, the club's second successive relegation.

The Midlands club lost five of their last six matches of the season and former Doncaster boss Saunders is followed out of Molineux by Carey.

A statement released on Monday morning on the club's website read: "Manager Dean Saunders has been informed by Wolves that his contract is to be terminated.

"The decision has been made following confirmation of Wolves' relegation to npower League One. Assistant manager Brian Carey will also be leaving the club.

"Wolves have now begun a recruitment process, which, in conjunction with the board, will be managed by head of football development and recruitment Kevin Thelwell.

"The club will now take as long as is necessary to make this crucial appointment and there will be no publicly communicated timescales.

"Wolves would like to thank Dean and Brian for their efforts in what has been a very difficult period for everyone, and wish them both the very best for the future.

"The club will be making no further comment at this stage."

Wolves owner Steve Morgan sacked Mick McCarthy, who had spent five and a half years in charge, in February last year with the club struggling at the bottom end of the Barclays Premier League.

McCarthy's assistant Terry Connor was appointed until the end of that season, but Wolves were relegated to the npower Championship with three games remaining.

Connor was sacked the following July and Stale Solbakken, who had lost his job at Cologne the previous month, was charged with guiding Wolves straight back to the top flight.

But the Norwegian made little impact at Molineux and after just half a season, with the club lying 18th in the Championship in January, he too was sacked and replaced two days later by Saunders.

Former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Saunders, who began his managerial career at Wrexham, took over as Doncaster manager in September 2011.

He was unable to halt Doncaster's slide into npower League One last season, but galvanised the South Yorkshire club and steered them into second place in the table before leaving to take charge of Wolves.

Doncaster secured an instant return to the npower Championship with victory at Brentford on the final day of the season under Brian Flynn, who has since stood down as Rovers manager.

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